Wood Buffalo prepares for National Poetry Month

Programs, celebrations and previews of upcoming poetry projects

By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

Poetry month

The Wood Buffalo region celebrates literacy for National Poetry Month. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s Words in Motion program and NorthWord Magazine are outlets for poetry lovers to express themselves Through words regularly. Photo by Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly

It’s a wonderful thing that happens every spring. A time where emotions collide, leaving all judgement aside. April is National Poetry Month (NPM) and it’s the largest literary celebration in the world.

First introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets in the United States – and later recognized in Canada in 1998, NPM has grown itself organically and is now celebrated in communities across North America in both official and unofficial ways.

The League of Canadian Poets (LCP) announced ‘The Road’ as the official theme for NPM’s 18th anniversary. According to Poets.ca, the LCP is encouraging Canadians to “take poetry on the road, or stay at home and let poetry take you on the road.” (Poets can join the conversation and share their works on social media by tagging @CanadianPoets or use the hashtag #NPM16.

Two local prominent poetry entities will be hosting events to make notice of the celebration and showcase the talent within the community.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) will be bringing authors of this year’s Words in Motion program together in a special collaborated event partnership with the Wood Buffalo Regional Library (WBRL) on April 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Since 2012, the RMWB’s literacy program has published hundreds of submissions from residents of all ages. Receiving an estimated 100 to 150 poems each year, the 2016 selection will include 45 poems by 42 poets. Their works will be displayed on Wood Buffalo Transit buses and the RMWB website.

Community Strategies Coordinator of the RMWB and Words in Motion program coordinator Jessica Barry highlights the significance of celebrating poetry.

“Poetry promotes literacy. It opens venues for speaking and listening. It builds community and fosters emotional resilience,” Barry shared. “It can cross boundaries and help us learn more about each other, as well as ourselves.”

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The event will include a ceremony of authors reading their work selected by the Words in Motion judges’ panel, special remarks from representatives of the RMWB and WBRL, and the opportunity for poets to network and share their submissions.

NorthWord Magazine will also be celebrating the month with their most recent: “What’s in a Name?” issue, which was themed and guest edited by Joanne Hlina. The issue has been on newsstands since early February and includes submissions from poets, writers and artists from across the region. (The upcoming event will be posted on the magazine’s social media outlets in the near future.)

NorthWord’s 15th issue “Climbing the Mountain” is underway and with the submission deadline now closed, Guest Editor Theresa Wells shares her insights on why it’s important to have literary outlets, such as NorthWord, to entice creativity on a regular basis.

“I have been fortunate to both develop my own outlet through my blog, as well as securing work as a freelance writer,” said Wells, who writes occasionally for Connect Weekly and various media publications in the region. “For some writers, however – particularly novice writers, it can be hard to gain that foot hold and find a place where their work can shine and be appreciated, and NorthWord is that place.”

Also a frequently published poet, Wells said the local publication further offers opportunities without bias.
“NorthWord provides an opportunity to writers of all demographics, and does so from a point of equality as with the names removed from the submissions all pieces are being selected solely on their merit, and not on the identity of the author,” she shared. “It’s a remarkable publication that reflects an equally remarkable community.”

Keep updated with NorthWord on social media on Facebook and on Twitter @NorthWordYMM. The RWMB will be featuring the selected poems from the 2016 WIM program online. Go to www.rmwb.ca to learn more.

-Connect Weekly-